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Christmas Could Come Early for Retailers as Customers Get a Jump on Shopping

  • Retailers see early interest from consumers in holiday shopping, but warn that last-minute shoppers may miss out due to supply chain disruptions
  • One study suggests that people got a jump on their shopping largely due to pandemic-related boredom
  • Holiday spending likely to increase from 2019 due to more expenditures by high-income shoppers

Every December, shoppers pack into malls and shops to find that perfect gift for a loved one for the holidays. But thanks to COVID-19, retailers have seen an early surge of customers on the hunt for Christmas presents – and last-minute shoppers could miss out.

Search engines noted a significant boost in Christmas-related searches as early as April. Retailers have also reported a noticeable increase in advance shopping as customers try to spread their spending over a longer period or simply want to look forward to a happier season. One survey found that about half of respondents were dealing with pandemic-related boredom by getting a head start on their holiday shopping.

Since COVID-19 severely disrupted global supply chains, retailers are warning that people who put their shopping off to the last minute may not be able to get their items in time for Christmas. Though online retailers have seen heavy traffic as customers browse items, there is also a worry that some stores – already struggling with diminished sales this year – won’t survive if they don’t have robust holiday sales.

Holiday spending is expected to increase this year as wealthier households see more buying power due to a strong stock market, reduced expenses, and cash freed up from canceled vacations. At the same time, millions of households are likely to restrict their spending due to unemployment or uncertainty about their job security.

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